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November 14, 2014

Intel to ‘kill or sell’ security software business

Chipmaker could go way of rival Symantec, according to senior tech executive.

By Jimmy Nicholls

Intel is likely to sell off the enterprise security software side of its business in the next few years, according to one of tech’s most senior figures.

Speaking off the record, he said that Intel is separating the security software components from its primarily business of making chips, and will one day create a separate unit and "put it to one side".

"Intel made the tragic mistake of believing they could suddenly integrate security into their chips," he said. "They’re a good company and very well managed, but I think they’ve realised the mistake they’ve made."

He speculated that the firm would bring together "all the key components of security to put into their chip infrastructure", which remains the core of the company’s business

On the subject of the enterprise security software department, he added: "They either will kill it or sell it. They could find someone to buy it, but if not they will gracefully let that thing go."

A spokesman from Intel told CBR that the information was not accurate, and that Intel Security "is about combining the strengths of McAfee and Intel to infuse security into technology wherever technology delivers value."

The chipmaker is seeking to absorb the McAfee brand under the banner of Intel Security, retaining only the "M" shield as part of a new logo, a move some have attributed to erratic behaviour on the part of John McAfee, who founded the security company.

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Bob Tarzey, director at research firm Quocirca, said: "I think that the reason Intel bought McAfee in the first place is that it thought there were benefits to be had in building security capabilities into the silicon.

"What I’d guess it would be most likely to do is to sell off the bits that don’t follow that paradigm."

Our source added that the situation at McAfee could be compared to its rivals Symantec, which announced that it would split its storage and security divisions into two separate companies in October.

Symantec’s acquisition of the storage firm Veritas in 2005 was described as a "fundamental mistake", and had meant that the security business would have been consumed by storage business. Our source added that the firm had "failed miserably" to integrate further acquisitions.

Symantec declined to comment on the remarks.

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